Cooking from the Garden, or How to Use Up All those Vegetables You/Your Neighbor Grew

We've just arrived home from an, er, extended vacation to my parents' house only to realize that our vegetable garden has kept going without us. The tomato plants are absolutely staggering under the weight of red and green fruits, the rhubarb is a huge mass of stalks and leaves, giant zucchini have magically appeared, and the haricots verts (tiny green beans) are ready for garden snacking. The beets and carrots are overdue for a good pulling, and a green pumpkin the size of a healthy turkey has taken up residence in the middle of our plot. After a harvest bonanza we shared a fair bit with our neighbors, but still have quite the bounty to cook up. Late summer brings these lovelies to the garden and farmer's market, and it seems that everyone is coming up with tasty, creative ways to bring them to the table. Here are a few recipes that we in the Kiddio house have enjoyed, along with a selection of ideas from around blogland! (image via flickr/framajo)

Harvard Beets (I was astonished to find that each of my children adores beets...while I think that they taste remarkably like the soil that they grew in. This recipe makes something even I'd eat!)

3/4 c. sugar
1 T. cornstarch
1/3 c. white vinegar
1/3 c. water
pinch salt
about 6 fresh beets, peeled and sliced

Combine sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, water, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add beets (the liquid will not cover them, but they'll let out a lot of super-staining purple juiciness) and simmer an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep refrigerated!

Rhubarb Cake (Daddio quite fancies rhubarb and this is a nice switch from the usual rhubarb pie. Also makes a nice breakfast (don't tell my mother I said that!))

1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 c. buttermilk or scant cup milk + 1 t. lemon juice
3 c. chopped rhubarb

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy, then add egg and vanilla, beating well. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Alternate adding 1/3 dry ingredients with 1/3 milk, beating well between each addition. Finally, stir in rhubarb and spread into greased 9"x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

(We're at high altitude, so I cut back on the sugar a bit, add an extra egg, and put in an extra Tbsp. of flour, then it usually bakes a bit longer than usual. For more on high-altitude baking modifications, check out's tips )

Sweetie Pie Pickled Veggies (I may be revealing my inherent pickiness, but I've only just realized that I just love pickles. This is a great recipe for a variety of vegetables including the standard cucumber, and a fun recipe to put together with kids).

1 t. pickling salt
1/2 c. peeled ginger, sliced thinly
1 1/2 c. rice vinegar (cider vinegar works in a pinch)
1 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 c. sugar

Any combination of four of the following:
1/2 lb. small pickling cucumbers sliced into 1-inch sections
2 c. diagonal carrot slices (1/2 inch thick)
1/2 lb. asparagus spears
1 large red bell pepper cut into 1-inch squares
2 c. 1-inch wide strips watermelon rind
2 medium sweet onions cut into 1-inch chunks

Toss the cucumbers with 1/2 t. salt, let sit 1-2 hours. Combine ginger, vinegar, water, sugar, and remaining 1/2 t. salt in saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove the pot from the heat. Drain and rinse the cucumbers, and pack veggies loosely in two 1-quart jars. Pour hot liquid over vegetables, cover jar, and refrigerate for 2-3 days. Keep refrigerated up to 3 months and enjoy!

Recipes from around blogland:

Tiny Morsels has completely blown my mind with her recipe for zucchini fries.

With the zucchini you have left over from the fries you can make zucchini soup (which I didn't think sounded a bit palatable until I read Mary Beth's recipe at Salt and Chocolate!)

In the same vein, Plum Pudding offers up recipes for summer squash, including zucchini quesadillas.

Katy at Sycamore Stirrings shares a recipe for curried carrot soup...a nice way to use up all those carrots I forgot to thin!

Scribbit has been making fresh strawberry ice cream (which I'm planning to pick strawberries for as soon as I can get to the berry farm...)

Okay, so I don't have a banana tree (yet!), but Pepper Paints' chocolate-covered-frozen-bananas-with-sprinkles look delicious!

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